Clean up following powerful Albuquerque storm

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Residents are cleaning up and authorities are working to fix traffic lights after a powerful storm swept through the Albuquerque area.

The storm Friday evening brought heavy rain and strong winds that caused power outages to thousands and sparked street flooding.

Albuquerque Emergency Management officials urged residents early Saturday to avoid major roadways and thoroughfares as worker clean up the aftermath.

Albuquerque police say the severe weather knocked down trees, utility lines and flooding roadways.

Authorities say most of the water that created havoc on streets had receded Saturday and street signs or police officers had been placed at more than two dozen intersections to handle malfunctioning traffic signals.

Officials say the storm also caused minor damage to a levy.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

A powerful storm swept through the Albuquerque area Friday night, bring heavy rain and strong winds that knocked out power to thousands and caused street flooding, official said.

The city's Emergency Management office urged the public early Saturday morning to avoid major roadways and thoroughfares as crews worked to clean up from the high waters and from downed trees and utility lines.

"Right now we need time to restore basic services," Roger Ebner, Director of Emergency Management, said in a statement. "The best thing the public can do is to stay home, relax and enjoy their weekend while crews work to restore power, clean the roadways and assist motorists."

Police said that traffic control officers or street signs were at more than two dozen intersections to handle malfunctioning traffic signals.

PNM reported that about 28,000 customers were without power at the peak of the storm.

The company said it was working to restore power but some customers could be without it into Saturday.

The storm, which ripped through Albuquerque shortly after 7 p.m., also downed power lines down on Interstate 25 near Gibson, forcing a temporary closure of the freeway.

At the same time, a traffic collision at Interstate 40 and Coors prompted police to close east bound traffic until early Saturday, police said.

Officials said crews were called to assess a levy at Tingley and Alcalde and determined that there was no severe damage. The officials said that the conservatory district reduced all water flows to levies to ensure they would not be compromised.

The Albuquerque Journal reported that winds gusts of nearly 90 mph blew past the Albuquerque International Sunport.

An inch of rain fell at the Sunport, and northeastern parts of the city also saw between 1.6 and 1.8 inches of rain, according to preliminary reports.

Mark Summerlin, 24, was driving his parents' Buick sedan west on Central Avenue under the Downtown bridge, which had flooded, when his car stalled. He sat in his vehicle as water levels rose, and continued rising, to above the center console.

"It started getting higher, so then I called 911," Summerlin told the Journal.

An Albuquerque firefighter hoisted Summerlin onto his shoulders and walked out from under the bridge as waters reached to above chest.